This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Lack of diversity awareness widespread in tech; brogrammers get schooled; Afghan girls learn to code; and more.
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It won't surprise anyone that men and women disagree on gender and diversity in the workplace. While some men believe that the lack of diversity hiring stems from a dearth of qualified hires, women tend to think that unconscious bias is to blame for the issue. Business Insider analyzed First Round's "State of Startups" report and found that out of more than 700 startup founders, only 17% were women. Having so many men in the ring seems to perpetuate male hiring. "Simply put, tech companies don't make diversity a priority." Two numbers stood out to us most in this report though: Almost a quarter of startups have no plans to increase diversity, and one-third of startups haven't even talked about diversity within the company. In order to increase diversity in hiring, we first need to be on the same page and get everything out in the open. (See WiCipedia: Small Steps Forward, Big Step Back.)
The lack of diversity in hiring isn't just discriminatory; it's also costing big money. HR Dive says that "women alone could miss out on $299 billion in income by 2025," based on a recent
Accenture report. This is due to lack of minority hiring and also lack of salary parity. CNET argues that while tech jobs generally pay well, the rate at which salaries increase for people of color is paltry, and that hiring for token diverse employees just to make diversity reports look better isn't really helping anyone. "The concern becomes if you're just hiring them in and the environment is so negative that they then just turn around and leave, you really haven't made any gains," says Elizabeth Ames, vice president of strategic marketing and alliances for the Anita Borg Institute. (See WiCipedia: Internet by Bicycle, Pay Gaps & Misogyny in the Valley and Mentor Monday: Anita Borg's Elizabeth Ames.)
Girls Who Code and CollegeHumor have teamed up to create "The Problem With Brogrammers," a video that depicts the fundamental differences in the way male and female programmers work and view their work. CNET reports that while female coders may look for ways that technology can help those who are less privileged, male programmers are drawn to more self-serving innovations. "Oftentimes, the tech industry is perceived to create technology to make life easier for the most privileged, essentially replacing their moms rather than tackling our society's most pressing challenges," said Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani. See below for the full video. (See WiCipedia: Hogrammers, Cleavage & Finding a Niche.)
Say you don't need a mom robot and you want to invent something a bit more altruistic. You might want to head over to WHACK, a "woman-centric" hackathon held at Wellesley College in Mass. The event's motto, "Hack for Social Good," hints at the non-profit focus of the event, which drew 80 undergrads this year. NationSwell explains that "UpLift, which combats sexual harassment; Partners in Health, which ships medical supplies to developing countries; and Wellesley's Office of Disability, which makes the campus more accessible to those with a physical handicap," were the recipients of the two-day hackathon. The conference was funded by Major League Hacking and was open to everyone. (See BTE 2015: Innovation Thrives on Diversity.)
A new program in Afghanistan, Code to Inspire, is teaching young women how to be "digitally literate," reports Yahoo. Girls are learning computer science there, no small feat in a country where only 24% of women are able to read and 40% of people are unemployed. "In the past, girls didn't study computer science. We want to change this situation," Munireh Hossein Zada, a 19-year-old student, says. The program is trying to build a pipeline for students to create work-from-home computer jobs instead of only having the option of being a stay-at-home wife, potentially restructuring gender norms in the traditional society. "Zada states it more simply: 'I'm a strong girl, and I want to prove that Afghan women can be strong.'" (See Mentor Monday: AT&T's Brooks McCorcle.)
Re: Brogrammers @Eryn I just heard about the Spinn Coffeemaker -- you can turn it on with your phone and select what type of coffee you'd like it to make (or you can operate Spinn by telling Alexa you want coffee). I used to joke that my phone could even make coffee for me and now it can, apparently. So now I'm reconsidering my earlier comment - maybe we've reached the peak of self-serving innovations and can just focus on the altruistic ones now ;)
I hadn't thought about this issue before either, and I'm sure there are a lot of exceptions too. I've definitely heard about men creating things that aren't self-serving, though not sure I can think of any women who have created mom robots! But there are so many fewer women that it's really hard to know where to put the blame. I agree that a healthy balance of self-serving and altruistic is good though.
Brogrammers The Brogrammer video is too funny! I hadn't given much thought to what types of innovations male or female coders focus on, but that's really interesting to hear that women focus more on technology that helps the underserved and men focus on more self-serving innovations. I think it would be less of a "problem" with brogrammers if there were more female programmers to balance out the goals of these innovations as I think both self-serving and altruistic technologies are useful to everyone.